The stem cell removal procedure can only be performed at birth and does not endanger the life of the mother and baby in any way. Placental blood, the rich source from which the concentrate of pluripotent cells is extracted, remains in a variable amount along the path of the umbilical cord and inside the intensely vascularized placenta.
Stem cells (or mice) are the basis of all organs in the human body, having the power to cure them in the case of diseases such as spinal cord injury, genetic diseases, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, Crohn's, diabetes.
Placenta is an extremely important organ during pregnancy, because it ensures the transfer of nutrients and oxygen from the mother to the fetus, so that it can develop normally. Placental blood should be harvested exactly at birth, immediately after the baby comes into the world, before the placenta is removed.
This latest generation intervention requires prior planning, since the pregnancy period. Parents will sign a contract with a stem cell storage bank, determining who will collect the placental blood itself: a representative of the special unit or the obstetrician doctor assisting the pregnant woman at birth.
Parents receive a collection and transport kit, which they keep until the day the child is brought to the world.
The procedure itself
The method of sampling the placental blood is not invasive, so it does not endanger the health of the mother or the newborn. The doctor, the nurse or the representative of the stem cell bank extracts the blood in which the cells from the umbilical cord or placenta are located, within 3 minutes after birth.
The period is quite small, so the kit must be prepared beforehand and the birth must take place under sterile conditions. The quantity that can be collected differs greatly, being absolutely arbitrary. The values are between 20 ml and 100/150 ml.
The procedure can also be performed in case of underwater birth, in the presence of epidural anesthesia or any other calming medication. As the umbilical heartbeat ceases, it is severed and the blood from it and the placenta are harvested.
The sample is transported as soon as possible to the storage bank and processed, so that it can then be stored as a viable specimen for transplant.
Stem cell analysis
In the interval between 2 and 8 weeks, the laboratory will send a complete report of placental blood analysis, which contains bacteriological tests, the volume harvested (between 20 and 200 ml) and the number of stem cells that could be extracted from the sample.
Stem cells are stored in special liquid nitrogen containers, at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius. Specialists also use a chemical intended to prevent the formation of crystals during freezing.
In the unfortunate case where the blood receives the diagnosis of "contaminated" (infections were detected with rubella virus, toxoplasmosis, hepatitis B and C, HIV or active syphilis), the sample can no longer be used for transplantation.
Stem cell transplantation
The higher the volume of blood, the greater the likelihood that the number of stem cells can be life-saving even when the baby becomes adult. The number of cells harvested is sufficient in relation to a certain number of kilograms: a small volume of blood taken at birth works for a maximum weight of 5-10 kilograms.
The cells extracted from the placental blood have 100% compatibility with the body of the child, but can be used for a single transplant. A large amount of stem cells can give results even in adulthood, for a person up to 100 kilograms.
Currently, statistics from Romania show that there are more than 1500 children with leukemia, and many of them cannot be saved because their parents did not perform the stem cell sampling procedure at birth. Doctors say that the only hope in this case is for parents to harvest stem cells from their second child, if they plan to do so: the chances of compatibility between siblings are 25%, an important percentage that could it turns into a long awaited miracle.
Tags Stem cell sampling Transplant stem cells Stem cells Storage Stem cells Choosing stem cell bank